So as we are just a couple hours away from the second preseason game of the season and Cam Newton’s first ever NFL start, let’s take some time to look at a couple things that you should look out for as the coaching staff continues to evaluate the team’s talent.
1. Can Armanti Edwards build on last weeks game?
Edwards had a great start to the 2011 NFL season last Saturday with two spectacular punt returns as well as a nice deep catch. But the question is was that just a once game fluke or is Edwards legit. He should see a lot of action on punt returns but I really want to see him get a bit more involved in the pass game. Edwards has the ability to be an X-Factor on offense if he can perform out of the slot but he has to show he can get open and catch the ball consistently.
2. How will Newton perform under the pressure of being the No. 1?
This is Cam Newton’s first game as the Carolina Panther’s starting quarterback. How we he react? Will we see some jitters, some nerves, possibly. Newton has gotten a ton of media attention and has a lot of expectations even though the quarterback has only play two quarters of professional football. This game will be a tall-tale sign to show how Newton will progress down the line. If he performs well and is able to adequately run and manage the Panthers offense, then expect Newton to be named the opening starter next week.
3. Thomas Davis’ return to the field
Davis has been out for most of the last two seasons due to ACL injuries but the former first round pick of the Panthers is finally healthy and is more than ready to get back on the field. Prior to his injury in 2009, Davis was having a career year playing under Ron Meeks cover-2 defense. This is a bit different system then what the Panthers were running two years ago but I am sure Davis has picked it up. The real question is how will he perform after to ACL surgeries. Those types of injuries are not easy to come back from, especially two of them so it will be interesting to see how Davis responds getting back onto the field.
4. The defensive tackle battle
Defensive tackle is one of the most interesting and important position battles at camp. So far this season Corey Irvin and Sione Fua have been running with the first team, but Fua is just a rookie and Irvin was benched in practice earlier this week for jumping offsides numerous times. Neither guys have much experience and Terrell McClain the Panthers other rookie has been slowly improving after arriving late to camp. Someone will need to show some consistency and step up for the Panthers.